View Full Version : Starting a new band

Mark J.
17-06-09, 11:28 AM
Now, just so's everyone knows, I'm not interested in starting a new band, I'm just wondering about this out loud...

If I so desired, how do you think you could go about starting a brand new pipe band from scratch?

I can see, so far, the logistics of recruiting people, or tutoring learners etc etc...I was kind of involved in getting the numbers up in my old band from about 5 to about 25.
So, on the whole, not too tricky - just a bit of effort and tenatiousness (sp?) req'd.

But that was a band that already had kit. So how would one go about getting kit for a band?
Sponsership's the only way I can think of, since fundraising without kit might be tricky; but so might sponsership be unless you've got some big names in your band!!
How about busking for a few months to get money together to allow you to buy kit to allow you to go fundraising...etc etc?

17-06-09, 12:52 PM
Here in Canada you can apply for grants that will help get a band off the ground. In fact was part of one myself until their practice schedule conflicted with work. Two grade one pipers and a bunch of other pipers from all walks of piping a couple drummers and off you go. The first season they competed in black slacks and white tops as there was no money for kilts etc. Since then they've received grant money and have kitted themselves out.

Pete Walen
17-06-09, 01:37 PM
In the mid-90's I helped start a band in Michigan. The founding members had a long talk with each other and our spouses.

One couple, husband and wife, both pipers, made arrangements to get pay the up-front cost of buying minimum kit for the band - kilt, sporrans, waistbelts, glens and matching badges. Some of us who were in the position to do so paid for our kit to relieve the burden as much as we could. I still wear mine from time to time.

I fronted the cost of the drums. Walked into the music store with a very empty MasterCard, said "I'd like to know the price of a Premier HTS200 snare drum please." The clerk looked it up, said "Wow, those are pretty expensive..." he got the owner to approve a price - I said "That would be great. I'd like three."

We used some "rudimental tenors" I pulled from a school's dust bin and refurbished for our tenors the first two years - then we were able to buy some matching tenors.

First three years we split the money from every band performance - half went into the band's bank account, half went to pay down what was owed for uniforms and drums. By the end of the third year of the band's existance, and second year competing, everyone was paid-off.

17-06-09, 02:09 PM
i have a friend who is doing this just now. he's starting a band from scratch. The way he's doing it is getting the members that can play to play galadays etc in their own uniform. This allows them to get the money in from the gigs and save up to eventually buy their own stuff. I think it also helps that he is a pipe band supplier... so he knows where to get stuff from cheap.

but there are grants that youc an apply for here too!

mark m
17-06-09, 02:57 PM
We're doing this right now. What's worked well for us is that we've been helped a great deal by another band in terms of drums and fund raising ideas.

The most important thing for us is to play properly - most of the members have never played any musical instrument let alone the pipes. We all started out as beginners up to 1.5 yrs ago (except 1 five year player) and we're up to 16 and still growing. We've got a few donations that came out of thin air, T-shirt sales and a fund raiser at a local pub last month.
Just starting to get uniforms put together - it'll probably take a few years but so will the playing - We're in no hurry

17-06-09, 03:07 PM
Great ideas.

I have no plans of starting a new band. I just love to think about designing a new uniform for an imaginary band. Selecting tartans, colours, drums etc. It's one of those "in a perfect world and money is no object" scenarios. And if I could draft a few select pipers and drummers that would be great as well.

17-06-09, 03:17 PM
Great ideas.

I have no plans of starting a new band. I just love to think about designing a new uniform for an imaginary band. Selecting tartans, colours, drums etc. It's one of those "in a perfect world and money is no object" scenarios. And if I could draft a few select pipers and drummers that would be great as well.
yeah macfire and I used to do that. we came up with a black and hot pink erskine tartan...black shirts, black vests, hot pink ties...black hose, hot pink flashes...
hot pink on top of the glen

I think it would look sharp. then Slayer came out with their crest...and I guess they were thinking along the same lines haha.

Scottish piper
17-06-09, 03:47 PM
Hehehehe! I was going to ask this!

17-06-09, 07:11 PM
First thing I'd do would be to sort the funding. So far I've not had any success but every week I apply for lottery funding. As I can't be bothered with the paperwork involved I just have to pay my pound! With a lucky dip I don't have any parerwork to do!
The band would be democtatic - one man, one vote. I'd be "the man" and have "the vote"!
Ideally I'd fund the band to pay the players a living wage, get them full time and get performing for cash to keep it going on.

18-06-09, 04:48 AM
One of the bands I play with started this way. Everyone supplies there own kit. We all bought matching shirts, but we wear any tartan. Most of us play with other bands, so a few people have permission to use their other bands kilt.
The only things the band actually owns are Pipe Chanters and sporrans.

Mark J.
13-09-09, 01:37 AM
Kinda directed at Ppyper1...or any other PM/DS's in the ranks...

How much of your time each week would you say you give up for the band on average?

13-09-09, 08:07 AM
During the 1970`s/80`s I was involved with setting up 2 new bands the first band was given a loan of 5000 from the local District Council this allowed us to buy the essential equipment required to get the band up and running.
Once we had earned enough money we managed to finance the second band withing 2 years.

Both bands became very successful in the pipe band competitions winning every major title in 1989/90 seasons.
Sadly the adult band was disbanded through the usual "band politics , but the young band are still surviving and are still going strong to this day.

Mark J.
13-09-09, 08:16 AM
How much time were you giving up each week in the setting up of these two new bands?

Blue Scotty Girl
13-09-09, 10:31 AM
I was saddened to see that Inverness didn't have a decent pipe band for years. We had the whole Dingwall exodus to the Inverness and District about 20 years ago and they flourished for a few years then disappeared. I sort of expected them to revive somewhere down the line but I don't suppose that will happen now...those Culloden tartan kilts will never see the light of day again!

I think it would be easier in terms of uniforms, name etc. to reform a defunct band rather than start a new one from scratch. From what I hear, there are a lot of bands folding.

13-09-09, 11:05 AM
Kinda directed at Ppyper1...or any other PM/DS's in the ranks...

How much of your time each week would you say you give up for the band on average?

I'm out on Monday evenings about 8pm to 10pm, Tuesday 7 to 10, Thursday 7 to 10 and an hour or so on a Sunday. This does not include travelling. The drum sgt pretty much does the same hours. These hours are also learning and playing time, obviously admin time, organising comps, travel, music etc etc is extra to that.

1st hour on Tues and Thurs is dedicated to teaching, we have 10 learner pipers at present. I teach a cadet band on Monday and Sunday, I hope that they will when ready come over to the band.

Our band was on the brink of folding 2 years ago, with no drum corps at all and 3 pipers that could play and a couple learning.

We have just finished our second season back in competition, not a great success at the majors, but we won our 1st competition last week. We played 9 out of a possible 10 pipers, 4 sides, 3 tenors and a bass. About 70% of the players have been taught by the band, so we feel the hard work is worth it.

Blue Scotty Girl
13-09-09, 03:18 PM
That was some climb back from the brink of folding!

Well done to everyone involved :wave:

13-09-09, 04:32 PM
Thanks, everyone is working really hard and are keen to keep going forward.

This is the second time I have been involved in rebuilding a band. It is really rewarding when you see the band improve and grow.

The biggest thing I have noticed with small bands and bands that sruggle for players is the lack of a website, it really is a must certainly for bands desperate for members.

13-09-09, 06:58 PM
How much time were you giving up each week in the setting up of these two new bands?

Aproximately 6 months from the initial meeting with the council officials the band was up and running.

As I said in my last post, within 2 years we had the 2 bands going and competing successfully, the adult band even raised enough cash to buy a 53 seater second hand coach, which was converted and repainted with the band`s name logo etc.
Having our own transport saved us a lot of travelling expenses, we even travelled to Europe twice with our own coach.
We organised the setting up of the bands very quickly, most of us worked full time, so the project was organised during normal band practice nights.

Mark J.
13-09-09, 11:46 PM
My renewed interest in this subject is because my first band (my local one) has asked me to become pipe major.

Looked at the RSPBA rules and in the situation, it'd be ok to be pipe major there & a member of Tayside (so long as we don't get demoted).

But the time commitment is already pretty big with Tayside (more so going thru the summer months for obvious reasons), I just wonder if I'd cope. I've already decided that, if I did take the job, Tayside would have to come first if there was conflicts of dates - is that a bad thing?

The Forres Band (who've asked me back) is in quite a state of dis-repair: they've got some pipers, some interest from learners, and some drummers; but I also wonder how the best way of getting things going would be.

14-09-09, 01:19 AM
How much time were you giving up each week in the setting up of these two new bands?

Not so much with setting up a new band but rather bringing back a band (from five pipers and two sides to 8 to 14 pipers, five sides, three tenors and a bass with 5 learner pipers and 5 learner drummers) took a huge time commitment, Monday evenings 6:00 to 7:00, Wednesday evenings 7:00 to 10:, Sunday afternoons 3:00 to 5:00, plus gigs and competitions plus at least one additional evening a week on non practice issues and then time to practice myself.

Worthwhile? Yes but not sustainable for ever!:taz:

14-09-09, 04:52 AM
Cool......never really had a question directed to me. How much time per week? Kinda depends on the time of year. summer being more than winter obviously. On average with practice, emails, performances, music selection and tweaking.........during the busy times (say two or more performances a week) 15-20 hours a week. In the slow times 6-10. I'm really kinda anal about things though. We also do about 3 weekends out of town a season, and I attend our associations weekend AGM. (It's in Vegas :bg:) Add to that the stuff I have to do for our local branch of the association (I'm the VP of that and the education committee chair) I think most of my discrestional time goes to piping related stuff. I like it though.......if I got paid for it, I'd be wealthy. :rotf:

I tend to have the mentality of "If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself". I know that isn't always true and the folks in my band pull their weight. All I mean by that is that I could delegate a few of those hours out that I don't. We recently started our own games sponsored by our band. I do a lot there, but have delegated most of it to a gal in our band that is about as anal as I am. The two of us are quite the pair.

Did that help at all or just make you stressed out? I've been doing this for going on 26 yrs so it's all just part of lifeas I know it, the time spent increases the longer I'm in, but again, I should delegate some of it out.

14-09-09, 09:09 AM
If you become P.M. of a band you must give that band your 100% attention.

I was also the drumming teacher of the 2 bands that I mentioned in my last post.
I competed with the adult band, but if the bands competing times clashed there was no question as to where my first priority was, it was with the young band as they needed my support more.

A P.M. is a huge responsibility and to get a good working relationship with your players you must show them that they come first before the band you compete with.

A friend of mine is P.M. with a new young band, a nice guy, 1st class player, has great up to date ideas on music, is also a full time teacher and his committment to his teaching job is 1st class.
He also competes and plays in one of the top grade 1 bands in the world.

Where he falls down as P.M. of this young band is, he organises his young bands schedule to suit his playing and competing committments, even to the extent of cutting back his young band to 1 nights band practice a week instead of 2, reducing the number of their competitions to 6 per full competing season and cancelling any fund raising events that clash with his other band`s committments.
This way of organising his young band`s schedule is causing background rumblings by the parents of the kids and will eventually blow up in his face.

Blue Scotty Girl
14-09-09, 09:58 AM
The Forres Band (who've asked me back) is in quite a state of dis-repair: they've got some pipers, some interest from learners, and some drummers; but I also wonder how the best way of getting things going would be.

What's the goal of the Forres band? Are they aiming to compete or be a street band? Going by your comments about the RSPBA I imagine they want to compete and that is going to take huge commitment but not just from you.

In the ROI (where I am) a band is allowed have an instructor from a higher grade, in much the same way as the RSPBA rules allow you in Scotland but that instructor is not permitted to act as PM. So our band have a PM PLUS an Instructor from St Laurence O'toole. I'm no expert, this is my first year but as I see it, the work load is shared. The instructor does a lot of work with the pipe corp, from chanter work and getting the tunes right to helping the PM get the sound he wants. It works (most of the time *L*) I think because these guys have worked together for years in various bands. Our pipe seargent (sp) does most of the teaching with beginners.

In Scotland you have to be the PM so perhaps your way forward is to ensure you have a good, solid right hand man, so to speak. Someone who can work with you and take over seamlessly if you're absent.

I think it can be done, it works over here and I admire the guys who can maintain their G1 commitments as well as instructing a lower grade band. Even in competitions they will play in the morning with their G4 band, quick change of uniform (including pipes) and off they trot with G1.

It also helps foster relations between the lower grade bands and the higher ones, our band have been known to grab a passing SLOT player to help with tuning but more often than not, one will happen along and offer words of advice.

Best of luck, whatever you decide, I'd love to see another band from the North (of Scotland) flourish.:bacon:

14-09-09, 04:20 PM
I am all for young kids being helped by higher grade players and I am not against any adult player who is a tutor or P.M. of a young band competing with another band.
I did it myself for years, but when you have a position of responsibility such as a pipe major / instructor of a young band you must show the kids some positive loyalty.

Reading your first post you said if you became the P.M. of this new band your first loyaly would be with the band you compete with and not the band you are becoming P.M of!!!
I just feel this is not the correct attitude for a P.M. of any band to take.

Mark J.
14-09-09, 04:59 PM
Fair points about commitment - let me explain some parts though.

The G1 band has practises twice a week during normal weeks, but since it's a 5 hour round trip I rarely go more than once. If, however, it's a competition at the weekend & practises have been stepped up to four times a week; I will do my most to be there Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday. I can demonstrate to my G1 PM that I am as committed as it's going to get, and he's happy.

As for the local band, I don't know if they're currently interested in competing. They did before I joined years ago but stopped, and they havn't since. I'm interested in getting them out to comps but that'd be quite a while away.
Since G1 band doesn't really do much aside from comps, and anything else they do is at the police's request (which I've not been asked to do - I think because of the distance involved) or for fundraising for buses (again I've not been asked to join).

With a guy who plays the pipes who's ay my work just now, I've discussed points of getting the band together & I'm actually surprised with the time that I'd give up for the local band. This bearing in mind that, due to my work, I have an abundance of spare time when I'm at home.

When the band is expected to compete, and I'm home for it, I'll be at my practises & I'll be at the competition; which is only fair to the police I think. But also, when I'm away Sunday Tuesday & Thursday for a 5 hour drive plus 2 & a half hour practises, I'll still be keeping up my commitments with the local.
...my girlfriend'll be going MAD!!
And then, once the local's are competing (hopefully) then we can all be at the same comps at the same time!

I do agree with you, however, Kaily; reading my first post, that that would be a totally unacceptable attitude to have. I hope I never have a PM like that. Hopefully what I've written shows that my priorities aren't completely up my backside?

@Blue Scotty Girl; on your point about having a right hand man to seamlessly take over: this would have to be the case anyway, again due to my being away for work. Just a case of finding the right person...

But, at the moment, it's all pie in the sky - I've decided nothing yet & probably won't for a while. I like the idea of the challenge that's there though!
...............Double post automerged..............
Best of luck, whatever you decide, I'd love to see another band from the North (of Scotland) flourish.:bacon:

Thanks by the way :) :bacon:

16-09-09, 11:23 AM
I second Blue Scotty Girl. It would be good to have another up and coming band in the North of Scotland branch. All the best Mark!